Hello everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve posted an article here. We can blame it on the alcohol or the fact that we’ve been so busy with the new season kicking off or that its just easier to post something on facebook, or we can be honest and just admit that I’m a bit lazy. Anyway I’m happy to report that the St. Louligans are alive and kicking and the 2011 St. Louis Lions season is underway and we’re having as much fun as ever. Today I’m not going to talk about the results or the table, I’m going to talk about fandom. Follow our facebook pages or twitter feeds and listen to our podcasts and you’ll get daily news on what’s happening with the team, but today a bigger issue needs addressing.
First, I want to say how happy I am to be a part of this group. I’ve met some great friends and had some of the best times watching live soccer with people that I didn’t even know a couple years ago. I have a lot of fun talking about “my” team and going out to the park to see them play and talking about them with my friends. I try my best to spread the gospel of Local Soccer, and many times I get disheartened that more people don’t share our love. This came up recently with the UEFA Champions League Final. We had a decent viewing party at a local bar and then had a few new people tag along with us to the Lions game. It was a great time. But then I saw pictures from another Soccer Bar (a great place to watch a game) with hundreds of people in attendance to watch the game on tv and I felt dismay. Why don’t those great soccer fans come out to watch the local game?
I know others feel the same way. What can we do to convince them to come out and support “our” team. I think the answer is that we’re already doing it. We’re having fun and we’re telling everyone we can think of how great it is. We’re tweeting and facebooking and emailing anyone who’ll care to listen. We make new fans slowly and organically. Are we better fans because we support our local team? No. We’re just different fans. We get the great feeling of supporting our local team. Others don’t. That’s really all there is to it. Our job is to keep the movement alive and welcome others into the fold when they’re ready. We’re building something and it will take time. It would be great to have 300 or 500 or 1000 Louligans at every Lions game, but for now- I’m happy with the 20-30 that are regulars. Maybe next year it will be 50? The point is, we won’t be Timbers Army or Sons of Ben overnight. (and neither were they)
So, before you start feeling down I’ve got a few things for you to remember. Anybody that likes soccer at any level is a good thing in this country. If they only enjoy watching their EURO team on tv at the Amsterdam, or Tigin, or Barristers, etc. That’s fine. They are potential Louligans. If they only want to watch MLS, that’s fine too- I can’t make somebody watch USL-PDL. Let them enjoy soccer at their level. If they want to come check out a Lions game with us then welcome them with open arms. Offer to buy beers or tickets and show them a good time. At that point it’s really on them. I think if they come out to a game they’ll have a blast, but that’s all we can do.
Now, in the meantime let’s focus on some of the things that we get for our tireless efforts. After a game I can walk up to the coach/owner of our team and shake his hand. I can tell him thank you and he says it right back and he means it. That feels damn good. Try to do that to Roman Abromovich or Sir Alex. During the game you can walk up to the General Manager of the club and ask him anything you want about the team or the stadium or the weather. Try that with the GM of an MLS club. At halftime I can stand by the side of the field and pat our players on the back. If the game is going bad I can tell them to keep their chins up and if the game is going well I can joke with them about where we’re going afterwards. Players out with an injury can come up to the stands and tell us what is going on on the bench. They can tell us what chants and songs are working. The week before or after a game our players interact with us personally on twitter and facebook. After every single game I’ve been thanked by our team for what we’re doing. They appreciate it. That means we are succeeding in doing something positive.
Finally. Enjoy this. We hear all the time that USL-PDL is too low level for some to bother with. Really? Look at the rosters of most MLS teams and they are full of USL-PDL players. Teal Bunbury and Tommy Heinemann are just a couple of names that you know that have played on the Lions pitch just a few short years ago. How awesome would it be if Ernad, Alen, Andres, Jonny, Tyler, or any of the other guys make it to MLS? Imagine that roadtrip. One of “our” boys making it to the top flight would be a party.
So let’s not dwell on our failures. Focus on our success. I wish we could do more for the Lions, but they appreciate what we do. Keep up the good work. Keep bringing friends out to the game and our group will grow. Even if we never get to be a big supporter group, I appreciate what we are and wouldn’t trade my gamedays with you guys for anything.